AUBURN, Ala. — Kevin Steele isn’t shy about setting high goals for his Auburn defense. The mark he wants his third-down defense to hit is inspired by two of the best franchises in the NFL.
While the Tigers are on pace to reach that high expectation on third downs, they’re way behind what Steele wants to see in the turnover category.
“We need to get to where, our goal is to have, I think it’s one in every 28 snaps a turnover,” Steele said Wednesday night. “That’s a pretty lofty deal, but that’s at least two, two and a half, however many plays you play.”
Right now, Auburn has forced 5 turnovers in five games — or one in 68.8 snaps faced this season. The Tigers have 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions.
Auburn senior cornerback Josh Holsey, who has one of the team’s two interceptions, is frustrated with the lack of turnovers on what has been a much-improved defense.
“I think we’ve played pretty good, if you ask me,” Holsey said Tuesday. “But I think we need to get a lot more turnovers, though. We do need to get more interceptions.”
Holsey blames the lack of interceptions on minor issues with the Auburn secondary, which is ranked 28th nationally in yards allowed per pass attempt.
“It’s a little leverage problem here and there, maybe a technique flaw at the line somewhere,” Holsey said. “As a back end, I think we’re doing good. We’re improving. Everybody’s kind of bought in to what Coach McGriff has taught us. We’re ready. He challenges us every week to get more turnovers.”
Steele knows his motivated defense will have a hard time reaching that average of a turnover per 28 snaps, but he believes these takeaways can come in spurts.
Right now, 15 defenses in college football average forcing more than 2 turnovers per game. The nation’s leader in that category, Washington, has gotten at least 3 takeaways in 4 of its 5 games so far in 2016.
“There’s been stretches where you’ve seen teams go get 3 (turnovers), 3 (turnovers), 3 (turnovers), sometimes 4 games in a row,” Steele said, splitting up the hypothetical games with a chopping hand motion. “We’re due that, and we’re working on it.”